Vegan Stuffed Shells

There have been a lot of things that I have learned from my grandmother (referred to from here on out as “Granny”).  Some tidbits of knowledge aren’t really applicable in my current life; like a plastic bag can work in a pinch if you are stuck in a storm and need to protect your perm.  The lessons and values that carry the most weight are those related to family.  Sunday dinners are mandatory, and you must always cook enough food to feed a small army.  Same goes for any holiday gathering or any event where friends and family come together.  And Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter aren’t complete without a stuffed pasta dish.

Vegan Stuffed Shells

That is why it was a no-brainer for me to make stuffed shells for Granny’s wake back in June.  Pasta dishes were already well represented (hello, eight billion pounds of baked ziti), but we needed something for the lactose intolerant and vegan members of the family.  The stuffed shells were a hit, and without the deterring label of “vegan” they were the first dish to disappear.

our visit to juju salon & organics

maeby at juju salon & organics

 

Disclosure: We received free services from Juju Salon & Organics, but all opinions are my own.

Recently we were invited to a media event at Juju Salon & Organics in Philadelphia.  Between the inspirational chalkboard and the cute window displays, we were smitten by the ambiance before we even stepped foot into the salon.  When we walked in we were greeted by a cozy waiting area to the left and a display of products that looked more like an Anthropologie display, not the usual industrial displays at salons I have been to in the past.

products at juju salon and organics

There was something lacking when we walked in the door, and I was very appreciative.  I noticed immediately that I wasn’t gasping for a breath of fresh air.  In fact, I found my breathing relaxed and tranquil.  I had been long turned off by the abrasive chemicals used in salons, and I was amazed by the fact that they only used products with low or no VOCs at Juju Salon & Organics.  Ammonia free hair coloring and no synthetic fragrances?  Sounds like a place I feel comfortable at.  Add to that the scents of lavender, sage, verbena, and peppermint and it sounds like a place you are going to have to drag me out of.

I spoke with Julie Ebner, the salon owner, while she used a soy based wax to clean up my eyebrows.  She is a vegan and mother to two girls, so she wanted to create a salon that was better for the environment and better for her clients.  Juju Salon & Organics is a very friendly place for young girls, too.  Maeby received her first official manicure while we were there.  They had a vast array of Zoya polishes to choose from, and Maeby chose a purple shade: “Hudson.”

maeby at juju salon and organics

Located in the back of the salon, the manicure stations look like a living room.  The dimmed lighting really helped relax Maeby.  I have never seen my little wiggle worm stay this still.  If she had her way, she would go back every day to get her nails painted.

maeby at juju salon and organics

 

We had a lovely time and would love to return again.

You can find the products Juju Salon & Organics sells online here.

And you can find the location and services here.

And you can read We’re Parents!? review here.

 

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Summer is winding down and I would be remiss if I didn’t share this recipe with you while I still have the chance.  This dish is perfect for potlucks, picnics, or the days where it is just way too hot to cook.  Don’t worry about preparing too much feta, as you will end up adding it to salads, sandwiches, and pasta dishes.

watermelon and vegan feta salad

Tofu Feta

Ingredients:

fresh pressed tofu

1 tbsp 1 tsp brown miso paste

1 1/2 tsp basil

1 1/2 tsp oregano

1 1/2 tsp parsley

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

This recipe is best made using fresh pressed tofu, with very little water ln it.  This is what gives it the consistency of crumbled cheese.  If you decide to use extra firm tofu that has been packed in water, you will have to drain and press it a couple times to get as much of the water out as possible.

Muddle the herbs with the miso paste before adding oil to loosen it up.  Next, crumble the tofu into the dressing.  You’ll want to leave the pieces on the big side since they will break down more as you combine them.  Mix together the tofu and the dressing.  This step will take the longest because you want to make sure the miso is spread out evenly.  Finish the feta mixture with salt and pepper and give it another stir.  (Note: this recipe will provide you with a mild feta.  If you prefer yours with more tanginess, increase brown miso paste by one teaspoon until it reaches the strength you desire.)

Toss leftover feta with a drizzle of olive oil and store in an airtight container.

watermelon and vegan feta salad

Add the tofu feta to your chopped watermelon and enjoy!

Vegan Cream Cheese Wontons

I made a trip to a local Asian supermarket last week and made sure to pick up eggless wonton wrappers.  They are a little bit harder to find, but totally worth it to be able to enjoy this snack.

vegan cream cheese wontons

Filling Ingredients:

1 container vegan cream cheese (I used tofutti)

2 tbsp vegan mayonaise

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chopped chives

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Mix the filling ingredients together in a bowl until the mixture reaches a whipped cream consistency.  Next, spoon the mixture onto the wonton wrappers and fold the wrappers as shown.

vegan cream cheese wontons folding

I chose to pan fry mine on medium heat since I feel like I have more control of them that way.  Either way, you’ll want to fry them until they are a medium golden brown.

Let them cool for a few minutes because the filling will be hot.

These are so good that you will have sneaky little hands whisking away the wontons as soon as they are finished.

kicked-up ketchup

If we eat french fries in this house, chances are they are sweet potato fries.  Man, I really love sweet potato fries.  It’s funny because I thought I wouldn’t like them because my main exposure to sweet potatoes as a kid were the Thanksgiving side dish with marshmallows in it.  No thanks, sweet potato casserole, I’ll have my sweetness in the form of some pumpkin pie.

Anyway, back to the fries.  I feel like sweet potato fries deserve a classier ketchup than straight out of the bottle.  I came up with this super simple recipe to kick-up  your ketchup and it is a great complement to sweet potato fries.

Image

 

Kicked-up Ketchup

1 cup tomato ketchup

2 tablespoons sriracha

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

 

Combine ingredients in bowl.  Stir.  Serve.